Activists are calling on the public to help bolster efforts to require more transparency from the NYPD regarding gang investigations.
The coalition, which includes the Legal Aid Society, the Rockaway Youth Task Force, and the Bronx Defenders, launched the “FOIL Yourself” campaign Wednesday that urges people to send Freedom of Information requests to get more data on the police’s gang database.
Anthony Posada, a Legal Aid attorney, said several New Yorkers have allegedly been put in the database simply because they were spotted wearing a certain shirt or hanging out with the wrong person, or a social media post was flagged.
In some instances, innocent youths have been arrested in raids, he said.
“The label of being a gang member should not be taken lightly. It has dangerous consequences,” he said.
The NYPD did not return messages for comment.
Legal Aid has already FOILed the police last year for more information on database, and even though they acknowledged they received the request, the NYPD hasn’t shared the information.
Posada said a mass FOIL effort would force the police to divulge their policies when it comes to investigating gangs. Josmar Trujillo, of the End Broken Windows Coalition, added that the coalition will also put pressure on the City Council to get this information public.
“We ask our elected officials to have hearings and hold police accountable,” he said.